Luke Harris

Department of History
Honorary Research Fellow

Contact details

I am a social historian with interests in late nineteenth and early twentieth century British history, particularly anything related to sport. I have a real interest in the sporting history of Birmingham and the West Midlands and my current research is focused upon the development of athletics within the city at the commencement of the twentieth century.


I completed my BA and MA degrees at Aberystwyth University, before undertaking a funded PhD at Canterbury Christ Church University, entitled ‘Britain and the Olympic Games, 1908-1920: Perspectives on participation and identity’. Since it’s successfully publication in 2015, my thesis was published under the same title with Palgrave Macmillan and was the first in the series ‘Palgrave studies in Sport and Politics’. In 2016, my book won the International Society for Olympic Historians award for the outstanding book upon the Olympic movement. I have continued to research and write Olympic related history, although my research interests extend far beyond this.

Since the completion of my PhD, I have taught at Canterbury Christ Church University and completed a PGCE 11-18 qualification and I am currently employed as a history teacher within a secondary school. It is my desire to work with academia and undertake outstanding teaching and world class research.


MA in West Midlands History


My research interests primarily surround sports history, particularly related to athletics and the Olympic Games. My PhD research focused upon British involvement and identity towards the Olympic Games and my thesis and monograph are entitled ‘Britain and the Olympic Games, 1908-1920: Perspectives on Participation and identity’. This research allowed me to examine not just the national perspective upon the Olympic Games, but also that within the different nations and regions within England, allowing me to explore the perspectives within Britain’s four nations and regions, inclduing the Midlands.

My general interests in the Olympic Games and sports history have seen me write upon a number of subjects related to these fields. In 2011, while completing my doctorate I won the Pierre de Coubertin Societies Student essay competition for a piece on the impact of corruption for athletes, spectators, governing bodes and sponsors. More recently, I have written book chapters upon cricket, snooker, racism in British sport and sports manufacturer, Slazenger, within the fields of history and sports sociology. In 2018, I have a number of articles due to be published within journals.

Since the completion of my doctorate I have been able to utilise some of the material which I collected throughout my thesis, but was generally unable to utilise, such as the boys story newspapers. These newspapers have formed the basis of my research and writing for publication over the last year.

In 2016, I was awarded funding to undertake research which analysed the manner by which football clubs in England represented and presented their history. I am currently in the final stages of writing this research up for publication within academic journals.

Being from the Midlands I have always had an interest in the regions history. This was something reflected within my PhD and I am currently undertaking a new project which examines the development of athletics within Birmingham in the early twentieth century. Recently I have published upon the 1867 National Olympian Games which took place in Birmingham and W.W. Alexander, one of the key figures within the history of prominent Birmingham athletic club Birchfield Harriers.

Other activities

I am involved in not just writing within the field of history, but also have a strong interest in anything related to sport, particularly related to heritage and sociology.


Single-authored books

  • ‘Britain and the Olympic Games, 1908-1920: Perspectives upon participation and Identity,’ (Palgrave MacMillan, October 2015)

Contributions to books

  • ‘Ralph and Albert Slazenger’ in ‘Sporting Entrepreneurs’ edited by John Nauright and David K Wiggins, (University of Arkansas Press, 2018)
  • ‘Snooker and Billiards’ in ‘Routledge Handbook of Global sports’ (Routledge, 2018)
  • ‘Race and ethnicity in sport in spatial and temporal context: Britain’ in ‘Routledge Handbook of Race and Ethnicity in sport’, edited by John Nauright and David K. Wiggins, (Routledge, 2016)
  • The effects of corruption in sports on the Olympic Ideals and Sponsorship programmes in ‘Olympism, Olympic Education and Learning Legacies’, edited by Norbert Muller and Dikaia Chatziefstathiou (Cambridge Scholars Publishing,2014).
  • ‘English Cricket’ in ‘Sports around the world: History, Culture and practice’ edited by John Nauright and Charles Parrish, (ABC-CLIO, 2012)
  • ‘Marylebone Cricket Club’, in ‘Sports around the world: History, Culture and practice’ edited by John Nauright and Charles Parrish, (ABC-CLIO, 2012)
  • ‘Twickenham Stadium’, in ‘Sports around the world: History, Culture and practice’ edited by John Nauright and Charles Parrish, (ABC-CLIO, 2012)
  • ‘Wisden Cricketers Almanack’, ‘Sports around the world: History, Culture and practice’ edited by John Nauright and Charles Parrish, (ABC-CLIO, 2012)


  • ‘Factors affecting the emergence of Females in football, tennis and athletics in the late 20th and early 21st century’. (PE Review, April 2018)
  • with Day, Dave J: "Who in England cares about the champion spear tosser?" Field Events and the British Athletic Psyche before World War One. (to be published within ‘The Journal of Sports History’, 2018)
  • ‘What are the Much Wenlock Olympian Games and why are they important?’ (PE Review, January 2018)
  • Olympic heart of gold: Birmingham and the Olympic Games. Journal of Olympic history, (March 2015)
  • ‘Fighting for the links: Scottish Golf during World War Two’. Through the Green (September 2011)
  • ‘Women’s role in British Golf during World War II’, Through the Green (September 2009)
  • ‘Golf behind the lines: Golf in the Channel Islands during World War Two’, Through the Green (December 2009)

Web-based publications

  • ‘Birmingham’s first Olympics: The 1867 National Olympian Games’ (Playing Pasts 4/1/18)
  • ‘The Olympics that never were; Berlin 1916’. (Playing Pasts, 16/10/17)
  • ‘Should we forgive Justin Gatlin’. (The Commentator, 7/8/17)
  • ‘To host or not to host: An Olympic dilemma’. (The Commentator, 13/7/17)
  • ‘Sport and the Boys’ Story: Tales of the Stadium (1908)’. (Playing Pasts, 1/6/17)
  • ‘Should Britain compete at the 1920 Olympics? An argument between Charles Otway and Robert S. Courcy Laffan (1919)’. (Playing Pasts, 27/2/17)
  • ‘One of the worst cases of fouling that I have ever seen: W.W. Alexander’s reflections on the 1908 Olympics’. (Playing Pasts, 8/1/17)
  • ‘Russia and Doping: Why? And what is the future for sport?’ (The Commentator, 27/7/16)
  • ‘Premier League damaging England’s chances of Glory’ (The Commentator, 8/9/15)
  • ‘Blood Doping: Have the guilty athletes already won?’ (The Commentator, 19/8/15)
  • ‘Doping: Does the power of sport outweigh corruption?’ (The Commentator, 8/8/15)